Friday, December 31, 2010

10,000 Hours To Expertise

People often ask how long does it take to get a black belt? Studies say that it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient at something. When a new student spars for the first time they are sometimes frustrated that they get hit a lot or get tired. I can spar with someone and that person can over analyze the whys and why nots of the sparring session. They wonder why I landed a particular technique over and over again or why was able to read what they were doing before they could get off with a technique. I tell them that from ages 18 to 36 (16 of those years almost non stop) I was for most part in a boxing or martial arts gym training 5 to 6 days a week anywhere from 1 to 4 hours a day (1 hour some days due to a year and a 1/2 period for a job). Since 1999 I've worked in the gym business. But prior to that I would train early mornings before work or during lunch time for supplementary work and my evenings were spent working on my craft (martial arts). Using rough numbers (3 hours a day x 6 days week = 18 hours a week x 52 weeks = 936 hours a year x 16 years = 14,976 hours. This is a conservative number not including the hours of training and practice since age 8 (as training during those formative years would be less). At age 14, I new I wanted to become a world kickboxing champion. By age 18 I focused on that goal. Now with hours of practice estimated, I can't imagine the numbers of hours I put in studying. After training in the gym, I would watch the advanced fighters train. For over a 15 year, there was no fight show that took place in town that I didn't go watch. I knew the stats and ranking for the sport of kickboxing like a baseball fanatic knows baseball cards. 
So, when a new student gets frustrated I ask them their favorite sport or hobby growing up. When the guestimate the hours put in researching, practicing, studying, etc. then it makes since to them. Imagine how many shots Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan shot before they made it to the NBA. 
"1,000 times, a beginner. 10,000 times, a Master" Mas Oyama.

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